Fish and Game Oppose Trout Farming

by Tony Orman

Fish and Game NZ has come out opposed to trout farming says a front page article by Amber Allot in this morning’s “Press”.The article said “Kiwi anglers are asking the Government to do more research before deciding whether to allow commercial trout farming, amid fears it could decimate a billion dollar industry. The New Zealand Fish & Game Council voted over the weekend to oppose a controversial recommendation that the Government give commercial trout farming for food production “serious consideration”. A council spokesman said the opposition was “because of risks to the wild trout fishery”..
The trout fishing public reacted some 50 years ago when the then National government tried to introduce trout farming. anglers rose up in wrath as scientific evidence was obtained that showed trout farming was of no economic benefit especially compared to the tourist and dollar generator value of the sports fishery. 
Trout farming became a major election issue at the 1972 election. The National government was soundly defeated with newspaper editorials naming angler opposition to trout farming as a major factor.

Basically the arguments against trout farming were:-
Uncertain economics
Disease risk
Use of public waters and effluent
Poaching and black markets
Value of trout fishing
Genetic erosion of wild stocks

I remember in the 1970s one of the USA’s top fisheries management experts telling me “trout farming is capital intensive, high risk, and marginally economic.”
Those arguments are just as valid today.
Trout farming has flared up again in 2020 because a Marlborough resident – a former would-be salmon farmer – petitioned Parliament to allow trout farming. A select committee heard the petitioner’s views but did not appear to hear any other public input. The select committee then recommended government consider introducing trout farming. The question why did the committee not seek other views? It was hardly  a democratic exercise.
Besides the petitioner’s Golden Bay salmon farming venture based on the concept of “ocean ranching”  in the late 1970s, failed.
It is reported that corporate fishing companies like Sanfords want trout farming allowed. Peter Goodfellow, who along with his family are reportedly the major shareholders of Sanfords, is president of the National Party.

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10 Responses to Fish and Game Oppose Trout Farming

  1. D J Adams says:

    For once the Professional Fishing Guides have joined in the fight. Good on them, but I have to say also about time. I hope they do become public advocates for the resource. After all without the resource, guides would be out of a job.

  2. John Gornall says:

    The important sentence in this piece is, ‘Kiwi anglers are asking the Government to do more research before deciding whether to allow commercial trout farming.’
    In the light of environmental concerns, Scientific Research is already being applied to all aspects of our economy, the dairy industry notably, but all land and water use. It should be no less so with a view to introducing trout farming.

  3. Peter Trolove says:

    Thank you Fish & Game on behalf of the NZFFA. Peter Trolove (President)

  4. Alan Rennie says:

    You would have to be nuts to farm trout in NZ waters ,Modest levels of nitrate nitrogen – in the 75 to 100 mg/L range – may be more harmful to aquaculture-raised rainbow trout than producers realize. A team of scientists at the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute led by John Davidson documented deformities and significant behavioral changes in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) raised in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) with nitrate nitrogen concentrations at levels less than one-tenth the recommended maximum nitrate nitrogen level of 1,000 mg/L. They believe the changes were spurred by chronic exposure to nitrate nitrogen.

  5. ken lloyd says:

    they say history never repeats, this is nothing more than a wealth grab that will have no benefit for the economy ,Estimate is that the fresh water fishery already generates one billion dollars to the economy and this does not take into account one of the big issues facing the NewZealand society today, the social well being that fishing provides to individual and families has to my knowledge has never been measured, and this comes free to the government, Anglers will not forget at the next election if their passion and social balance is destroyed

  6. Bud JonesQSM says:

    There is no place for trout farming in NZ this subject has run it’s course and now rejected as a cultural and scientific NO GO THERE, the risk in all events is not worth any conjured money benefit.
    Some things are sacdred so they should remain, it’s not always about money!!
    Bud JonesQSM

  7. Tony Orman says:

    As an American fisheries expert (Ben Schley) once told me trout farming is “capital intensive, high risk and marginally economic.” In other words it requires large money to start up, it has a high risk of disease – inevitable? – and has weak economic justification.

  8. Will Simpson says:

    A major danger from trout farming is the poaching and black market. To those who dismiss this, think of the huge poaching/ black markets in paua, crayfish, venison (deer) etc., New Zealand’s trout fishery is a very valuable public resource said to be worth a billion dollars a year. Why danger that with an economically shaky venture on a world market already saturated with farmed trout. Farmed trout is a very mediocre product.

  9. Tony Orman says:

    Why would any government start trout farming when the sea fishing industry is in utter disarray? The price of sea fish in shops is astronomical. Blue cod in Marlborough supermarkets is $60 a kg. Yet Marlborough is the home of blue cod around its coastline. It doesn’t make sense.
    Forget trout farming. The notion came from a petition to parliament by a chap who tried ocean ranching salmon farming at PuPu Springs, Golden Bay, failed and yet the select committee listened to him.
    The select committee failed to hear any views or information against trout farming. Is that democratic?

  10. Grant Henderson says:

    There are some frightening videoclips on Youtube showing the effects of cage salmon farming in Canada and Norway. Massive water pollution from waste products. Fish farms are just feedlots. See

    Canadian wild salmon stocks are diminishing hugely.

    I just noticed this item from Canada:

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